Russian teen figure skater Kamila Valieva accused of doping set to be barred for four years - and stripped of Olympic title

Russian Olympic teen figure skater Kamila Valieva is facing a four-year doping ban that would keep her out of the next Winter Olympics – and strip her of her Winter Olympic win.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to ban her for four years and disqualify her from all events she competed in from the date of her positive drugs test in December last year.

Processing of the sample by a Swedish laboratory was delayed due to the Covid pandemic, meaning Ms Valieva, then 15, was allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics – and won gold – in the team event, before the failed drugs test was announced.

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As a result, the team medals have still not been awarded, pending the investigation. If Russia is disqualified due to Ms Valieva's violation, the US will move up to gold, Japan to silver and Canada bronze.

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
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The test results were made public, however, before she skated in the individual event at the competition. But a previous CAS panel opted against a provisional suspension and allowed her to take part, although she fell multiple times in the free programme and placed fourth.

The committee said her age was a factor in the decision to let her skate, as was the “low” amount of the banned substance – a heart drug – in her sample. Ms Valieva claimed at the time she had accidentally drunk from the same glass as her grandfather, who took heart medication.

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The CAS statement said WADA is seeking "the athlete be sanctioned with a four-year period of ineligibility starting on the date on which the CAS award enters into force". If the sanction is granted, she would not be able to compete in the next Winter Olympic Games in Italy.

The statement said: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport has registered the Statement of Appeal filed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency and the Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva [the athlete] following the absence of a decision in the procedure RUSADA vs/ Kamila Valieva, initiated by RUSADA after a sample provided by the athlete on December 5, 2021 at the 2021 Russian National Figure Skating Championships, revealed the presence of trimetazidine, a prohibited substance.”

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Witold Banka, president of WADA, said last week that as the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) had not reached a verdict on the case by its deadline, it would refer the case to CAS.

"Despite putting RUSADA under formal notice to resolve the Kamila Valieva case promptly, no progress was made,” he said.

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Questions have been raised over Ms Valieva’s vulnerability due to her age – and calls have been made in the figure skating community for her coaching team to take responsibility. Ms Valieva is coached by Eteri Tutberidze in Moscow.

All Russian figure skaters have been banned from international competition since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Officials, including judges and technical specialists, from the two countries are also banned from International Skating Union competitions. Some Russian coaches still have skaters in international competition representing other countries – although their coaches cannot attend events.

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